Also known as a trade show, a trade fair is a gathering organized to allow businesses within a specific industry to set up displays and demonstrations of their products and services. Fairs of this type are often held on an annual or semiannual basis, and are sometimes open to the public. Trade shows often feature special events for the exhibitors, such as seminars led by prominent individuals within that industry.
A basic structure for a trade fair involves the leasing of space in a convention center where each participating company can set up what is known as an trade fair booth. The space is then divided into a number of square or rectangular grids that are reserved by participants to set up their displays. Often, a single company can reserve one or more of these squares, depending on the size of the exhibit they wish to create.
As part of the leasing agreement, the trade fair organizers will arrange for such basics as simple draperies that provide backdrops for each designated exhibit space, and a power source for any electronic equipment the participants may desire. A rectangular table and a couple of chairs are usually included, although this is not always the case. Exhibitors are free to make use of these resources or bring along their own trade booth equipment to create a more customized exhibition.
Depending on the nature of the trade fair, attendance may be open to anyone or restricted to registered visitors and participants only. Trade fairs associated with the telecommunications industry are often open to the public, allowing potential customers to review the offerings of various communications services and possibly establish contacts that can be pursued later. Other shows are considered to be trade only, which means they are closed to the general public. This is often true with any trade show or exhibition that is focused on selling directly to registered conference attendees only, such as a fair built around the hospitality industry or the banking industry.
While a traditional trade fair takes place at a physical location, the concept of a virtual fair has gained some popularity in recent years. Using online resources, registered guests can access a web site established for the event, and take a virtual tour of all the online exhibitions created by the participating vendors. A virtual fair has several advantages, including the ability to utilize the latest Internet technology to create interesting presentations. Other benefits include the low cost of setup and the lack of any travel costs to attend the trade fair.